Living in a tiny house with a one year old

We’ve officially lived in our house for 6 weeks now. We love it. We’ll see if we still love it 6 months from now, but I have a feeling we will. When we were researching tiny-house living, I didn’t see much about families in tiny houses. Mostly single people, or couples. I figured other people might be interested, since inevitably when people hear we live in a tiny house (with a one year old)  they say, “But how do you….(insert normal daily activity here)”.

So this is an attempt to answer that. It also feels very strange writing this, since we live in 16m2 house with two lofts and only one child… when very many people in our country live with more people in equally small (or smaller!) spaces, and no one wonders how they do it. Living in a smaller space than our income appears to afford seems strange to people… but living in a small space is the norm for lots of people, and we had the privilege of choosing this, when they don’t.

No social media worthy shots with all the counters sparkling…this is real life! Here we go:

7:10am- Little guy wakes up around 7. I usually get up around 6, start coffee and read my Bible for a bit until he wakes up. Then I work on breakfast for him, and usually David joins us. If I’m going to work, our nanny arrives at 7 and takes over, and if I’m home, we all have a slower pace. Note the pile of dishes on the counter air drying from the night before. I usually put them away in the morning, but didn’t get to it this day. We did have a high chair for little guy, but he decided he’s over that now, so he sits on our chair storage cubes.

Nothing like cheesy toast and eggs for breakfast.

Also, this view every morning. Are you kidding?! It’s winter, so everything is a little more golden brown than it is in the summer. We’re really thankful for our friends who let us park on their property… it’s really a stunning spot. Why live inside when you can live outside?
I start on some breakfast clean up and get supper in the crock pot while David changes the little guy. Our couch is a sleeper couch, so we collapse it for a larger area when changing the little guy. We also keep most of his clothes downstairs, in cubbies under the stairs, so it’s easy to change him. There is a loft that will eventually be his “room” but for the moment it’s just the couch!
9:15 starting to be a little cleaner! Keeping clutter at bay is important in a small space.
Heading upstairs to make our bed.
I’m trying to remember why this was important… I think maybe to show the baby gate? Sometimes Bram sleeps upstairs with us in the morning, or for a nap, and so we lock the gate to prevent him coming down the stairs.


We built our stairs with a removable bottom step–since Bram is walking now, we’ve removed that step so that he can’t climb up the stairs.


Heading out the door for a playdate at 9:30- cleaning a house is pretty quick when it’s small!
It’s pretty chilly in the mornings, but the sun quickly warms us up in the winter.
12:30- Back from the playdate, Little guy is sleeping in the car, so I’m able to get some stuff done. This is a shot of our under the stairs storage. We’re still sub-dividing some of these spaces to make them tidier, but Little guy has a blue drawer for his cloth nappies, a drawer for his clothes, and then the rest is stationary, electronics, games, etc. I have one of our chair storage cubes for his extra clothes (either too big we’re holding on to, or too small we want to save) and I’ve told myself I can only keep what fits in the storage cube! So that’s how we’ve cut down on “baby clutter”.
2:30- time for snack/late lunch! The thing on the wall is a mini-space heater. It uses very low KWatts. And it works pretty well to take the edge off the cold. Most people in South Africa use space heaters (electric or gas) but we didn’t want a gas one because of such a small space + toddler!
People sometimes ask where we fit our clothes- hanging clothes under the stairs, and folded clothes in the plastic drawers upstairs. South Africa’s winters are not too cold, so we have all seasons of clothes in the drawers.
3:00pm: Outside play! Most of the time, unless it’s dark or too early in the morning (and therefore chilly) the little guy plays outside. Because we had to level the area where we are parked, we don’t have tons of grass just right outside, but he loves playing with rocks. Now he’s bigger he can also walk a little further to the spot where the grass starts. All of his toys and books fit into to shoe-box size containers we keep under the couch. But his favorite toys are usually our recycling that he wants to put rocks inside!
6:30pm- We went for a walk to the library (yay for communal spaces!) and then came back and had supper. Bath time for the little guy at 6:30, while I start the dishes clean up.
I wanted a washing machine more than 2 sinks or a dishwasher, so we wash dishes by hand and leave them to air dry. We have spot lighting downstairs so that we can keep the end of the loft where the little guy sleeps darker.
Yes- we found a mini-bath tub. I REALLY wanted a bath (for myself! But also because it’s easier with kids) and we found a 1.6m tub. There is a shower installed above.
6:45 This is a terribly dark picture, but the little guy is now asleep in his pop-up tent. We use a Kidco Pop up tent for his bed, and we just set it on the sleeper couch. We got the tent so that he has more of an enclosed, darker space, and isn’t distracted by our coming and going when he’s trying to get to sleep. So far, it’s worked great! We usually wait 15 minutes after putting him down, then head back downstairs and keep going with our business.
Again– the spot light system has been a huge help in sharing this space! Dishes can still get done even while the little guy sleeps.
7:30 – Adult time! We usually hang out upstairs in the loft (although we do go downstairs to make tea), and we read, watch downloaded TV shows or movies together. We can talk and watch movies and it doesn’t bother the kid. We go to small group one night a week at 7:30 and leave a monitor with our “landlords” mother, who is able to listen for the little guy.

If you want to know more about the technical side of building the tiny house, my husband’s blog is the place to go. We built our house based on hOMe plans, and with LOTS of help from Steve with Craymis Tiny Houses. Steve was FANTASTIC, gave us so much help with tools, ideas, work space… truly made this tiny house dream come true. If you’re in South Africa and dreaming of your own tiny house… look them up!

9 thoughts on “Living in a tiny house with a one year old

  1. A wonderful post with great photos to give us a good idea of how manage life in a tiny house. Looks like you guys do quite well in your tiny house.


  2. Thanks for the blog post. Was glad it turned out so well. I hope yo enjoy it for many years. It was a good project to work on with my son. Fond Memories.


  3. I loved reading your post! We are building our tiny house – almost done – and initially thought we’d model ours after HoMe as well, but my husband ended up designing ours differently. We love the clean lines of HoMe and yours as well!

    I enjoyed the part where you talk about choosing this lifestyle and what a privilege it is when SO MANY people on the planet live small because the *have* to. We’ve been grappling with that (as a dual-income couple in the US who do fairly well career-wise… some of our friends and family think we are crazy). It’s an incredible time to be alive when we can design a life that best fits our values. But I do constantly remind myself we are incredibly fortunate.

    Anyway, best of luck to you in your journey!


    1. Thanks so much for the comment! Yes, it is definitely a switch to move away from the “bigger ALWAYS equals better” mindset — but I totally agree- it’s amazing to be living in a time where there are more options for how to live out our values! Good luck with your build!!


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